Boston College’s nearly two-month reign at the top of men’s college hockey’s Top-20 polls came to an end on Monday as the University of New Hampshire-their Hockey East rival-knocked them down one spot. This was a result of the Eagles losing 4-2 at Boston University on Friday. Of course, the defending national champions recovered to smack the Terriers 5-2 on Saturday at Conte Forum so we don’t need to feel any pity for Jerry York’s troops. Parity in sports is always a good thing and the fact that BC won’t go wire-to-wire this season is a positive development for the game.
1) Boston College (11-2-0, 9-2-0 in Hockey East; No. 2 in USCHO.com poll, 19 of 50 1st place votes)
Last week: Lost 4-2 at BU on Friday; Beat BU 5-2 on Saturday
This week: At Providence on Friday then off for Christmas break until December 29
A national audience on NBC Sports Network was treated to the best rivalry in college hockey last weekend with a double dose of BC vs. BU. It didn’t disappoint either as both teams won on their home ice. The Eagles found themselves in a 2-0 hole in the 2nd period on Friday then a 3-1 deficit in the 3rd period and it was too much to overcome. It was a different story on Saturday as a 1-1 tie turned into a 4-1 advantage with three goals in the second period for the home team. Friday should be a good battle against the Friars, who are in fourth place in Hockey East and so far have been the surprise of the conference.
2) Boston University (8-5-0, 6-4-0 in Hockey East; No. 7 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Beat BC 4-2 on Friday; Lost at BC 5-2 on Saturday
This week: Travel to UNH tonight; host Maine on Saturday before they are off until December 29
A sweep would have been magical but BU has to be happy that at least they showed they can beat BC and quite handily I might add. You knew that it would be almost impossible to beat the Eagles on Saturday especially after a loss so you can’t penalize BU too much in that regard. The only real bad news for the Terriers is that promising sophomore winger Yasin Cisse’ abruptly left the program after last weekend, to pursue a junior hockey career in his native Canada. Facing a short week and a trip to Durham to face the top-ranked Wildcats is daunting but even a tie would be an excellent result for the Terriers. The Black Bears are a mess and stuck in last place of Hockey East so BU should most certainly beat them to go into the break with their heads held high.
3) Harvard (4-3-0, 3-3-0 in ECAC; No. 20 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: No games
This week: At Merrimack on Friday; host UMass Lowell on Monday before another long layoff until December 29
As far as I know, the Crimson still have a hockey team. It’s hard to remember since they haven’t played since way back on November 17 (a 1-0 loss at Colgate). Freshman forward Jimmy Vesey was named to the preliminary roster for the U.S. National junior team. That’s about as big an honor as you’ll find for someone his age, he currently leads the Crimson with five goals and eight points. Playing two beatable Hockey East squads should be a fair test to see what Harvard can do outside of its conference.
4) Northeastern (4-7-1, 2-6-1 in Hockey East)
Last week: Won 1-0 at UMass Amherst on Friday; Lost 6-3 to UMass Amherst on Saturday
This week: At UMass Lowell on Saturday then off until December 29
I cannot logically explain how a team can get an impressive 1-0 win on the road against a conference foe then come back the next night, on their home ice, and get blown out by that same opponent. We will celebrate Northeastern’s first Hockey East win since October 13 (3-1 vs. BC) but wonder if they will ever get their program to an elite level. Believe it or not, the Huskies are actually ahead of the River Hawks in Hockey East (7 points to 5) although Northeastern has played two more games. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Northeastern could steal a win at Tsongas Arena.
Star of the week
Boston University freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk
The Charlestown native and Bruins 2nd round draft pick from this past June had a night on Friday that he’ll probably never forget for the rest of his life. He scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 1:46 of the 3rd period as the Terriers knocked off No. 1 BC 4-2 at Agganis Arena. For the season, he has two goals and nine assists with a +6 in 13 games.
Quote of the week
From USCHO.com’s Dave Hendrickson:
“It’s real important to beat the teams ahead of us,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “We only have four losses but three of them were to the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the country (BC and UNH) and the other one was at No. 7 North Dakota.”